How can cavities lead to a tooth abscess?

Cavities can lead to infection, which can result in abscessed teeth. These problems can let bacteria enter the pulp (the soft tissue of a tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue) and can lead to pulp death. Catching a cavity early and having it filled can prevent the problem from worsening.
Left untreated, a cavity may lead to a tooth abscess, a collection of pus caused by a bacterial infection of the tooth. Damage to the tooth enamel, typically caused by a cavity, allows bacteria to penetrate into the center of the tooth, causing an infection. As the infection spreads, the body sends white blood cells to fight off the infection. These white blood cells, along with the bacteria and dead blood cells form pus. Pressure from the infection causes swelling, and forces the pus into an abscess at the infected tooth's root.

Continue Learning about Cavities


Cavities are tiny holes in your teeth that have developed from decay. Left untreated, cavities will get larger, and can cause toothache and possible loss of teeth. Anybody can get a cavity, but you put yourself at greater risk if ...

you don't brush regularly, or frequently consume sweets or sugary drinks. Your dentist can help prevent cavities with fluoride treatments, and can find them by taking pictures (X-rays) of the teeth. Once found, the dentist may treat your cavity with a filling or if extensive, with a crown. If there has been an extensive infection, other treatments, including antibiotics or a root canal surgery may be indicated.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.